CYCLING: JOE Allen finished a creditable seventh and sister Laura fourth in the National Youth Cycle Series first round.

Consisting of six events, this began in Sunderland over the Easter weekend.

However, their fortunes changed in round two, the three-day East Riding Youth Tour, with Joe struggling, finishing 17th overall, but Laura coming second.

Joe, 13, of Abesco-Cruden New Brighton CC had put in an excellent ride on Wearside, attacking on each of the nine laps as the course wound its way up a steep climb.

This hit the bigger race favourites who could only respond by closing the gap at the top of the climb.

Not challenging for the prime - the sprint for the line - on lap seven, Joe maintained his position in the bunch to the final 300 metres.

And, as the attacks began, he responded, overtaking a number of riders of a top-class field in the sprint for the line.

Laura Allen, 10, also riding for New Brighton CC, performed a little below expectation and was beaten in the sprint for the line, finishing fourth.

The previous day's racing was a three-stage event which did not count towards the National Series.

Laura performed much better, winning the U10/U12 event with two stage wins and a second place, and Joe, saving his pace and tactics for the Sunday, had a lowkey event, finishing outside the top five.

The East Riding Youth Tour consisted of a hill-climb, a time-trial and two circuit races. Laura improved on her third place two years ago with second spot overall.

Although not achieving a first place in any races, she proved her talent at time-trialling has not diminished since setting the national record last year.

She rode to second place behind overall event winner Hugh Carthy.

In the first circuit race, she finished second again to Carthy and in the final race of the event, fourth place was always going to be good enough to maintain her second place overall.

Again, Hugh Carthy won and Laura did what was needed to beat Penny Rowson.

Joe struggled in deteriorating conditions throughout the three days.

His best result was expected to come in the one-mile climb of Brantingham Dale, but despite holding an early lead, he tailed off to finish 12th on the stage.

Mechanical faults meant in the final stage, on an exposed and windy airfield site at Brough, he quickly got dropped but battled on to finish despite being lapped just before the final lap.

Laura had ridden with a maturity beyond her tender years in the final week of schools criterium racing at Southport.

The youngest in the U12s field, she more than held her own in a hectic start.

By lap three, Laura and Joanne Wilman, almost three years her senior, established a good lead on series pacesetter and nearest race challenger Lewis Balyckyi.

With Joanne and Laura sharing the workload, the gap widened over 10 laps.

And in the final 100m of the six-mile race, both riders were able to sit up and weigh each other up for the sprint. Laura led out but was passed by Joanne just 20 metres short of the line to finish second.

Laura fell to third in the overall standings but this was still an excellent result.

Joe Allen finished sixth in the first U14s race over nine miles.

In the second race, over four miles, Joe won two primes during the third and fourth laps - and finished sixth again in another sprint in a downpour.

These good results took Joe up a place in the overall results to sixth.